Metal pallets are without a doubt some of the most sturdy and rugged storage structures in a warehouse environment. Unlike wooden pallets, metal pallets don’t retain moisture and are less likely to crack, splinter, or break.
They’re also preferred when compared to other types of pallets because they have a relatively high load capacity and are resistant to damage from insects. With that being said, metal pallets don’t last forever.
While choosing metal over plastic or wood often means a higher cost up-front, it’s pretty much guaranteed to give you a bigger return on investment. Metal pallets can hold more than 4,000 pounds and are much less likely to become damaged by moisture, fire, insects, UV damage, and excessive temperature fluctuations than other kinds of materials. Most metal pallets come in either steel or aluminum, with steel being heavier and more susceptible to rusting over time.
The lightweight, corrosion-resistant design of metal pallets makes them appropriate for a wide range of industries, including pharmaceutical, food processing, meat packing, and more. But like all of your equipment, these types of pallets require occasional maintenance and can be restored to address small issues, but sometimes it makes more sense to replace rather than repair. Here are some signs it’s time to replace your metal pallet.
- It’s Warped or Bent — The mark of a good pallet is its ability to hold large loads in a secure, level manner. If your metal pallets have been misused — for example, if they’ve exceeded their load capacity one too many times — then it could warp or bend with time.
OSHA requires that pallets be stacked in a firm, flat manner to prevent workplace injury while stacking. A misshapen metal pallet can put workers at risk and increase your liability. Not to mention the fact that a wobbly pallet could mean damaged inventory.
- It’s Rusty — Even though a good majority of today’s metal pallets are made from non-corrosive metals that help prevent rusting in moist environments, occasional rust is inevitable with just about any piece of metal equipment, especially steel pallets. Inspect regularly and address small spots of rust as they come up. If your pallet is so rusty that it compromises the unit’s integrity or creates a rough surface that could lead to injury when handled, it’s time to upgrade to a new pallet.
- It’s Weighing You Down —If you’re dealing with older, steel pallets, you may be able to achieve some weight savings by switching to aluminum. Although aluminum pallets tend to be more expensive than steel up-front, they’re more lightweight. Of course, the weight savings makes aluminum pallets more desirable in freight shipping applications or in any other scenario where low weight and high load capacity is desired.
- It Isn’t Up to Code — Different industries have different specifications for which type of pallet to use. For example, the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) specifies the use of a clean pallet with mending plates, but no companion stringers. Make sure that you’re up to date on your industry’s most recent packing and stacking standards — if there are any — and then do a complete inspection of your existing pallet supply to make sure there are no glaring issues.
- It Has Sharp Edges —Although it’s rare, occasionally metal pallets can become so rusted or worn down that the metal becomes thin and sharp edges can emerge. Anytime you can identify sharpness on the corners or top portion of your pallet, it’s time to replace rather than repair. Unfortunately, metal pallets can be severely abused — it’s one of the things that makes them so great! — but sometimes this abuse leads to irreparable damage.
- It’s the Wrong Size — With so many new warehouse innovations out there, it’s likely that you’ve upgraded your stacking equipment before upgrading your metal pallets! New automated warehouse equipment may require pallets with different sized stringers or smaller footprints than you’re used to. Of course, it’s essential that your pallets work with your equipment to prevent injury, damage and low productivity.
Thinking about upgrading to new metal pallets? ExchangerHub offers new and used metal pallets that make the perfect upgrade for almost any environment. Make sure to consider selling metal pallets through our platform to get the most for your existing supply.